I was certainly going on safari.
I was moving my pith helmet to the lower hook
When a ground swell of epic dysentery
Swept through the crew, who were just then
Whittling the oars. We were thrilled; we could almost hear
The lions yawning and the jackals composing themselves.
We were up on a wave – the pirogue scuttled some
But not nearly enough to consider it at sea.
We went nowhere.
The crew’s morale was flattened; the water in barrels
Below deck lashed out against the bungs.
I could hear the ropes leathering.
My muzzle was mutilated, and I was cribbing
The hull again to recreate a landscape
Of my childhood in splinters and negative space:
I was being beaten by my brother; my mother lecturing
Me on the subject of hydrolysis until I refused baths –
I spent my time on a pile fearing the rainy season.
But I was a new man now. I was going on safari.
Regardless, I moved my pith helmet to the upper hook;
Like the famous jackal, I needed to compose myself.
I took off my trousers and neatly addressed them:
Men, said I, we’ve got to be vigilant
And tussle the tepid metaphor which is the sea,
Its depths as stony as men’s souls
With all those demons and cuttlefish lurking
Between bands of decomposing sea hair,
Which their mothers’ demand washed and combed.
I surveyed the crew for signs of mutiny.
Just then Karl rung the eight bells
Indicating that it was time to luncheon.
We threw anchor, and readied the ropes.
The city intersection was busy: the autos backed up
Like a wake behind us. But we had set a course
For a waffle house, and we were aiming to board her.
Sir, Karl said tugging my pink life preserver,
What should be done about your pith helmet?
I was beaming with pride as I placed it on the lower hook,
To Karl’s surprise and approval. He unzipped his costume
And it was my mother: she smiled and walked the plank.
Men, said I, order flaxseed, for we sail for the Dark Continent
When dawn’s red face peeks from behind its masquerade.
Unfortunately, they only had dumplings, which steamed
Like a ghost’s wound when a fork was applied.